Keynote talks that included a Q & A session afterward exposed participants to information that was totally new to some, and gave them opportunities to interact with the experts and others attending the conference.
The conference took place at the First Universalist Church, 250 Washington Street, Providence, RI.
Friday Evening Session One
George W. Sarris - The Greatest News Ever Announced!
The message that the God of heaven came to earth to bring salvation to all mankind is the greatest news ever announced. So why is it that most of Christendom has been told that the majority of the billions of people who have lived on this earth will remain separated from the love and mercy of God for all eternity? In this opening session, George W. Sarris explained where the idea of never-ending Hell came from (not the Bible), how it has become one of the greatest hindrances to the spread of the Christian Faith, and why the greatest story ever told is the greatest story that could ever be told.
Friday Evening Session Two
Speaker Panel - How I Got Here!
In this session, Peter Hiett, David Konstan, George W. Sarris and Tom Talbott shared how they personally became interested in the issue of Universal Salvation.
Saturday Morning Session Three
Brad Jersak - Universal Hope in the Early Church
In this talk, Brad Jersak discussed the foundations of Universal Hope as envisioned in the teaching of key Church mothers and fathers, and how it permeated Early Church liturgical worship. Far from a heresy or even a novelty among fringe groups, the conviction that what Christ had done, he did for all, and that all would freely embrace his saving grace was a central theme in the theology and worship of some of the most respected teachers, theologians and hierarchs of the 'One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.' Their vision, far from old and crusty, is lively, even electric, in the exaltation of Christ as Savior of all.
Saturday Morning Session Four
David Konstan - Sin, Repentance, and Eternity, or Why Greek Matters
A Weekend of Thought-Provoking Presentations and Conversations
Just recently Pope Francis questioned the traditional translation of the Greek word peirasmos as “temptation.” This is just one of many Greek words in the New Testament that are being translated differently these days, involving such fundamental ideas as sin, repentance, faith, punishment, forgiveness, sin – and, crucially, eternity. In this talk, David Konstan showed why these terms are controversial, how best to understand them, and what they tell us about torments in the afterlife. Prior knowledge of Greek is NOT required!
Saturday Afternoon Session Five
Peter Hiett - Who's Your Daddy?
Our perception of God, shapes our perception of ourselves and the manor in which we relate to everyone else in our world. In this session based on I John 3:1-3, Peter Hiett shared what the Scriptures teach about who God is and what He is really like.
"Behold what manor of love the Father has given unto us."
"He who thus hopes in him, purifies himself as he is pure."
God is Love. And so we will love.
God is One. And so we will be one.
Saturday Afternoon Session Six
W. Scott Axford - Some (Trinitarian) Universalist Church History
In this session, W. Scott Axford, pastor of the First Universalist Church of Providence, explained how Universalism began as a Christian denomination in America in line with the Early Church's teaching that God will ultimately restore all, and has continued a Trinitarian, liturgical, and ecumenically-minded witness since its 1821 founding.
Saturday Evening Session Seven
Tom Talbott - How to Read the Bible from a Universalist Perspective
After preliminary remarks about what any interpretation of the Bible as a whole entails, Tom Talbott argued that a universalist interpretation is far more plausible than either a Calvinist or an Arminian interpretation. He also showed how the standard arguments against such an interpretation are typically flawed in one of two ways: either they rest upon a rather elementary logical confusion or they can be easily reversed.
Saturday Evening Session Eight
Speaker Panel - Questions & Answers from the Audience